The International Association of Universities (IAU) has launched a Global Cluster on Higher Education and Research for Sustainable Development (HESD) to advocate for the key role that higher education institutions play in achieving Agenda 2030. This global endeavor directly engages universities in addressing all 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs).
The IAU HESD Cluster consists of 16 lead universities, one for each SDG; IAU leads the work on SDG 17 on global partnerships. The lead universities, which are based in all world regions, will work with ‘satellite’ universities to advance a particular SDG, all the while ensuring synergies among all goals. Professor Pornchai Mongkhonvanit, President of Siam University, in Thailand, chairs the IAU work on HESD, including the Cluster.
The Cluster has two main objectives. First, it will serve as a resource and networking hub for universities around the world. Universities that are already engaged in SDGs locally can establish partnerships through the Cluster and scale up their activities. Those who are just starting this line of work will be able to turn to the Cluster for collaboration and guidance on best practices to translate and advance SDGs in local, national and international contexts.
Second, the Cluster aims to be a global voice for higher education in sustainable development debates (including at the UN High Level Political Forum, HLPF), informing international organizations and national governments about the role of universities in achieving the SDGs. It will foster collaboration and exchange among all stakeholders and inform decision-making at local and global policy levels. In 2019, IAU plans to attend and present a paper at the HLPF in New York to highlight and strengthen the position of higher education institutions in Agenda 2030.
“We are not seeking to duplicate the existing work in this field, but rather to find new ways to effectively join forces and work together,” explained the IAU Secretary General Hilligje van’t Land.